Established in 1929, the Margaret Weyerhaeuser Jewett Chair of Arabic is the oldest endowed chair at AUB.
Writing in February of that year from Cambridge, Mass., Mr. James R. Jewett told President Bayard Dodge of his hope to endow a chair of Arabic “both because I wanted to do something to show my gratitude to Dr. and Mrs. Bliss and the friends who had shown me so much kindness when I was a young fellow far from home, and to give evidence of appreciation of the splendid work the University has been doing all these years. The thought of a professorship of Arabic attracted me both because of my own interest in the subject, and because I feel that a strong department of Arabic will in itself be a distinct asset for the University". The establishment of the Chair contributed significantly to the academic excellence which the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages has enjoyed for more than one century and a half.
The Chair sponsors several academic activities, including conferences and lectures. It recently organized, in collaboration with the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, a conference on Poetry and History: The Value of Poetry in Reconstructing Arab History. The papers delivered in that conference were published by AUB in 2011 in a book under the same title (ed. By Ramzi Baalbaki, Saleh Said Agha and Tarif Khalidi). The Chair also sponsors the Distinguished Lecturer Series, and the lectures given by leading Arabists in this series are normally published by A.U.B. as Occasional Papers. These texts are now also posted on this website.